Sagay, Ezekwesili, Aribisala clash at round-table on corruption war
By Wahab Abdullah & Gbenga Oke
Scholars and legal experts yesterday in Lagos disagreed over the war against corruption by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The roundtable which was organised by the Department of Jurispudence and International Law tagged “Winning the War Against Corruption” had in attendance keynote speakers which includes; Prof Itse Sagay, Mr Femi Aribisala, Mr Femi Falana who was represented by Wahab Shittu and Dr Oby Ezekwesili.
Speaking at the event, Mr Femi Aribisala described the current fight against corruption by the Buhari administration as selective and only targeting members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).
His words, “Before the 2015 elections, we do not have any party presenting us with an anti-corruption mandate. The All Progressives Congress, APC, can be called a makeover of the PDP and since they moved over, they are no more corrupt because they are now in APC. So as far as I am concerned, there was no mandate to fight corruption.
“If President Buhari really meant to fight corruption, he will not form an alliance with the people who he despised before. So today, I don’t know who is fighting the corruption.
“We have to make up our minds if we really want to deal with the question of corruption. If we want to deal with the question of corruption, Nigerians themselves must insist on it and we have to deal with it at the institutional level. The institutional fight against corruption that has taken place to the extent that it has, took place under PDP. The institutional structures, even the ones that the present government is relying on are PDP structures”.
Aribisala further stressed that the budget padding by some government institutions under the watch of the President is part of the corruption.
“If we have this issue of budget padding and after revealing it, you then passed the budget and Nigerians do not know what is in the new budget, you cannot talk of fighting corruption because the budget controversy lacks transparency.”
Reacting to Aribisala’s comment, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-corruption, Prof Itse Sagay, in his own comments however said the roundtable should not be turned to a PDP campaign ground.
Sagay who was visible angered by Aribisala’s comment said; “How can someone come here and say there is no fight against corruption and everybody will be clapping? The APC had a manifesto and it was clearly written how APC will fight corruption. So people here should not show ignorance”
Sagay went further to caution Aribisala on making statements devoid of facts. “You don’t take corruption war to a meaningless point. This is a serious discussion. So if Aribisala is anti-government, he should campaign for his party, the PDP to come back in 2019.”
He stressed further, “ICPC and EFCC were created by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and they are doing well, so we don’t need to create new institutions. You do not win a war by just creating multiplicity of institutions everywhere, that’s irresponsible”.
In his submission, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), said there is need to create special courts to handle corruption cases. According to him, creation of special courts for corruption cases will make the anti-corruption war more efficient.
Also speaking, a former World Bank Vice President, Dr Oby Ezekwesili said there is no comedy going on rather the youths should rise up to fight against corruption. According to her, corruption is demonstrated at various levels of government and all works of life.
“For example, everybody was applauding Aribisala after he spoke, the reason why you clapped was because some of you are in your own level of corruption. “Many of you students whose exams are around the corner are preparing for malpractices. When we talk about the need to wage war on corruption, many people are disconnected completely from what we are talking about” she stated.
“You need to be driven by the evidence of the damage and the destruction that corruption is doing to you at the unit level. If you think you are doing well now, you will do exceedingly better if corruption is effectively tackled in this society,” she said.